It’s a darn shame
December 7, 2006
Disappointments happen to all of us as we go through life. Some, small and simple, others hurt to the core of our soul. Wednesday morning I had one of those soul-shattering experiences that will leave an indelible mark on my heart for a long time.
Tuesday morning I was driving to work and, as I was almost to the merging lane from Highway 208 to Highway 395, something caught my eye. It appeared to be abandoned vehicles on old Highway 395, which parallels the newer Highway 208, but with no time to stop and investigate what I thought I saw, I went on to work thinking I would take a look on the way home. I got out of work too late that afternoon and put my investigation off until Wednesday morning. I left early for work Wednesday, and realized, what I had seen the morning before, was not my imagination.
I pulled into Holbrook Junction, down through the trailer park between the Junction Bar and the old Roadhouse, and accessed the old highway heading east. As soon as I made the curve onto the old highway, I was appalled at what I saw and it didn’t get any better as I thumped and bumped my way down the deteriorating asphalt of the old highway. It was a garbage dump of discarded appliances, broken furniture, old mattresses, smashed electronics, everywhere I looked, some barely visible, dragged off the old road and way out through the trees, some left right by the road, for almost a quarter of a mile until I could go no further where the road was blocked by two totalled vehicles, riddled with bullet holes, and a dirt burm blocking my path.
I felt myself wanting to cry as anger set in because I knew that on June 3 of this year, a volunteer clean-up crew, headed by Ole Chavez, had given a Saturday of their time and many hours of their own days off, to clean up that area and now it was worse than it had ever been. “How discouraging is that?” I thought.
“How could people harbor so much disrespect for the land and their neighbors?” I asked myself. How could people just dump their garbage out onto the landscape like this, forcing other people, who want to see the countryside clean and pristine, to have to clean up after them, sometimes at the expense of generous volunteers or just good citizens like Martin Pomeroy, who, a few years ago, had the equipment and the means to clean up the old highway corridor, which he did do. And, knowing about the clean-up work that had been done just last June, the amount of refuse, present again, was overwhelming. It made me ashamed for the “low-life” mentality that could do such a thing with so little regard for where we live.
I went to work Wednesday and spent all my spare time on the phone. I called the Bureau of Land Management, I called Douglas County, and a return call from Jay Hoogestraat, code enforcement officer for Douglas County proved encouraging. The overwhelming problem of irresponsible individuals, who chose to trash our landscape, is becoming epidemic all over Douglas County. According to Hoogestraat, regulations have been beefed up and enforcement has been stepped up as well. It is a misdemeanor offense to illegally dump refuse with stiff fines involved for offenders who are caught and yet people still continue to destroy our land. Most of the time clean-up is left up to responsible and caring people to come along behind these offenders to clean their messes up. How easy for the lazy and irresponsible and just how hard and costly for all of us who care?
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It is time for all of it to stop. To all of you who have dumped your junk with such disregard, and you all know who you are, it is time to pay your dues. It may not be so easy to just leave your trash and discards for others to pick up if we all get mad about having to do your job and cleaning up after your thoughtless actions.
Hoogestraat has often staked out some of the more popular dumping grounds in the hopes of catching people in the act, but with limited resources, code enforcement officers can’t be everywhere at once. It is time for we, as residents, living near the problem areas to say “enough is enough.” When you see something suspicious, like a vehicle traveling down a dead end road, loaded with junk, or even a vehicle that isn’t familiar in the area, get the license number of the vehicle and a description of the vehicle. Call the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office 782-9935 or Hoogestraat at 783-6439.